City region landmarks to light up in call to end violence against women

Iconic buildings and landmarks across the Liverpool City Region will be illuminated bright orange tonight (Wednesday 25 November), as part of an international campaign aimed at tackling violence against women.

Liverpool Town Hall, St George’s Hall, World Museum Liverpool, Merseyside Police Headquarters, the Greystone Footbridge in Knowsley and the Mersey Gateway Bridge in Halton will be lit to mark the UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and the start of the United Nation’s annual 16 days of activism against gender-based violence.

The spectacle has been organised by Merseyside-based Savera UK, which tackles harmful practices such as ‘honour’-based abuse (HBA), female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage across the UK and Zonta International, a global organisation that stands for women’s rights and advocates for equality, education and an end to child marriage and gender-based violence.

The UN #16Days campaign ends on Thursday 10th December, Human Rights Day, when a number of the participating landmarks in the region are expected to once again light up orange in a show of solidarity and support.

Last year, Zonta International marked the campaign period with its successful #ZONTASAYSNO initiative, which saw London’s Marble Arch lit orange alongside buildings in cities and towns in countries including the United States, Australia and across Europe.

The organisation was introduced to Savera UK by Liverpool-based peer-to-peer organisation, iWoman. This will be the first time Zonta International has extended the initiative outside of London in the UK.

Afrah Qassim, CEO and Founder of Savera UK, said: “Violence against women and girls is an enormous global issue. It takes place in all countries and cultures and renders streets, workplaces and even homes unsafe. Worldwide, it is estimated that 35 per cent of women have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or sexual violence by a non-partner at some point in their lives.

“In the case of culturally-specific forms of abuse that Savera UK tackles, such as ‘honour’-based abuse and forced/child marriage, women are disproportionately affected. It is absolutely vital that we continue to raise awareness for the ongoing fight to eliminate gender-based violence. We are delighted to be collaborating on this project with Zonta International and coming together with Liverpool City Council, Halton Council, Merseyside Police and the teams behind these iconic Liverpool landmarks to speak out together and offer a sign of hope to survivors and women and girls still living in abusive environments.”

Dianne Jeans, Advocacy Committee, Zonta Club of London, said: “Zonta International is dedicated to standing up to gender-based violence through its Zonta says NO campaign. During the 2020 UN 16 days of activism Zontians all around the globe will be taking part in events to ‘orange the world’ and shine a light on the hidden pandemic of violence against women. Here in the UK, the Zonta Club of London is encouraging local councils to light landmark structures orange to provide a symbol of hope and support for those that are affected by violence every day.  We applaud the actions in Liverpool to highlight this issue.”

Merseyside Police Assistant Chief Constable, Ian Critchley, said: “Tackling domestic abuse is one of our top priorities as a force and we want to encourage greater reporting of this often hidden crime, which has intensified for many during the COVID pandemic.

“We know due to the coercive and controlling nature of such abuse that victims may find it difficult to reach out for help. We also know that many people, often friends, family members and neighbours, are aware that offences are being committed but remain silent. I want to encourage those people to reach out to us or our partners.

“This campaign reinforces the importance of us all taking action to help those suffering domestic abuse, particularly those who may not be able to help themselves. It is vital that we all work together – not just the police and our partners, but members of the public as well, to break the silence and help those in need.

“I want to make it clear that domestic abuse is never acceptable and that no one should have to tolerate being treated this way. Making those first steps and reporting abuse can be daunting and there are many reasons people find it hard to do. However, there is support available, not just from the police, but other organisations too. We have specially trained officers ready to listen to you, treat you with compassion and respect and investigate any allegations of abuse thoroughly.

“If you are suffering and can find the courage to come forward, or know someone who may be a victim, please reach out and break the silence.”

Claire Benjamin, Head of Learning & Participation at National Museums Liverpool, said: “It is an honour to support Savera UK and Zonta International in what is an extremely important campaign.

Supporting women, promoting human dignity and protecting human rights is a vital cause, especially as this year’s anniversary falls in the middle of a global pandemic. We need to come together to use our platforms to raise awareness for our communities, and help vulnerable people to reach out to organisations such as Savera UK.”

Councillor Liz Parsons, Cabinet Member for Communities and Partnerships, said: “We know that women and girls are disproportionately affected by gender based abuse and crime. Any form of violence against women and girls whether physical, sexual or psychological is not acceptable and we will continue to work to find effective ways to tackle this.

“This year many people are at home working or isolating due to Covid restrictions and we recognise that your home may not be a safe place for you. If you are suffering abuse we want you to know that we will believe you and we will support you. You do not have to stay at home if it is dangerous for you to do so, please talk to us and we will help”

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy said: “I am very much aware that there are women and girls living around us, as neighbours and sometimes friends, who are trapped in situations where they suffer abuse and violence as part of their daily life and are too afraid to talk about it.

“Today, and over the next 16 days, we are making it clear that we can help. By lighting up some of Merseyside’s most iconic buildings in this vibrant colour, we are sending out a clear, visible message that we are supporting the UN campaign for a brighter future for women and girls, free from violence and abuse. I hope that women who are afraid realise there are many people and organisations who are ready and willing to listen and to help them.”

Cllr Shelley Powell, Knowsley’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Neighbourhoods, said: “Working alongside our partners, tackling domestic abuse is a key priority for the Council. As we continue to spend more time at home it’s more important than ever that our residents know that help and support is available and our message is you are not alone. Supporting International Day of the Prevention of Violence Against Women is a key date in our calendar and illuminating the Greystone Footbridge is a sign of our support. We will continue to ensure our residents know that help really is just a phone call away – please seek help and don’t suffer in silence.”

Ngunan Adamu, CEO and Founder of iWoman, said: “iWoman feels privileged to be in a position to support #OrangeTheWorld, our work in the community and internationally has allowed us to see the importance of this campaign and the impact that this collaboration makes in steering the conversation in the right direction.”

*Source: UN Women – https://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/ending-violence-against-women/facts-and-figures